Tax Day is a reminder of all that our collective tax dollars provide to strengthen our communities.

Our education system, our infrastructure network, health coverage for low-income families and their children, pensions and health benefits for public employees, care for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, public safety. , parks, recreation and countless other services that have improved lives and positioned others for success. And I imagine what is possible with deeper public investment. Ways that revenue can improve our society, lift up marginalized communities and make life better for everyone.

When state budgets are strengthened, lawmakers should put those revenues toward building a stronger and more inclusive society for the long haul. However, several state lawmakers have made it clear that their top priority is frequent tax cuts for the wealthy.

So far this year, lawmakers in eight states have passed major tax plans, and more than half of the remaining states are debating major tax changes. To date, seven states have cut income taxes, two have provided tax subsidies to seniors, four have provided one-time exemptions, and another five have increased existing state tax credits. While the credit increases we’ve seen so far this session are a welcome development, many of the proposals debated and passed by state legislatures are costly and permanent tax cuts that provide an external benefit to the wealthy and do relatively little for the poor. Middle income family.

Details of the tax action in each state are available through ITEP’s State Tax Watch Tracker.

2023 State Tax Policy Scenario

Note: This map is a snapshot of tax policy action as of April 12, 2023.

The most prominent trend we are seeing is the push to cut state income taxes. These include rate cuts, acceleration of existing cuts already on the books, larger subsidies for seniors, and efforts to move from graduated income tax structures to flat rates — a move that would limit those states’ ability to raise progressive revenue. with income tax in place.

State lawmakers also continue to push for full income tax abolition. It’s played out already this year in West Virginia where lawmakers have paired deep income tax cuts with a trigger that will eventually, over time, eliminate the state’s income tax.

So whether it’s through triggers, flat taxes with an eye on elimination, or the relentless chipping away of existing income taxes, there is a concerted effort by anti-tax lawmakers to create a path for income tax elimination in many states. And in those lacking, there is no focus only In cutting state income taxes, but restructuring them to make them fundamentally less fair and less effective at raising revenue, we need to fund significant public resources and create a stronger public sector that works to make our society more equitable and inclusive.

Many of these tax cuts are being enacted and debated with little or no acknowledgment of what we are giving up by choosing to collect fewer tax dollars. The recent trend toward tax cuts is designed to obfuscate those difficult discussions and make it appear false—that tax cuts have no downside.

But budget decisions always involve tradeoffs. And when tax cuts get out of hand and the people who primarily benefit are wealthy individuals and companies advocating for themselves, we lose the ability to fund what makes our society great. And we proceed from that positive approach to meaningful public investment.

Instead of prioritizing cuts, we should be talking about the revenue needed to fund universal preschool, college education options that don’t send families into debt, and infrastructure that’s safe, efficient, and keeps us out of the climate crisis. So most people-oriented policymakers are coming up with more forward-thinking solutions. For example: The governors of Minnesota and Wisconsin have proposed raising taxes on wealthy families who profit from their investments by charging higher rates on capital gains income; The governors of New York and Connecticut are pushing to extend temporary surcharges imposed on their states’ corporate income taxes; And Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz has proposed creating a state-administered system of paid family leave funded through payroll taxes. These governors, along with lawmakers across the country, are promoting bold policies to ensure their states raise equitable, sustainable revenue.

Let’s change the conversation to celebrate all that our collective income provides. And let’s move from the current “tax cuts first” mentality to one of conservation and revenue raising to meet our needs and exceed our expectations.

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